Today Frankie Devuyst came by the workplace, a very interesting man who has a lot of ambitions, goals and great ideas. Frankie told us he started his own association called HIV Association Belgium last year.
This isn't an association about HIV as you know it- he has a more applied and correct view on HIV prevention and especially on living with HIV: Frankie himself carries the HIV virus and he lives by what he preaches, namely:
"You can live a normal, healthy and long life with HIV."
Although HIV isn't something you want, it has become managable to live with here in Belgium, as Frankie demonstrates every day of his life. He takes one pill every day at the same hour and that's it! This one pill will keep the symptoms at bay and reduces the infection rate by 96%. And this, my friends, is the big point: people who are infected and are being treated with antiretrovirals aren't supposed to be your worries, it's the seropositive people who didn't get tested yet, who are infecting others. Especially if you are a gay man, you are bound to come into contact with someone who carries the disease at some point and therefore testing yourself after having unprotected sex -but preferably of course longer before that- should be a priority.
Before you start to worrying about unhygienic needles and psychopathic doctors and nurses, there is an easier way to get tested:
you can do a swab test. This means you can test for the virus with your saliva, like they do DNA-tests in every detective program or movie. It's actually pretty cool and easy and you can even send it in anonymous and get an answer in just a few days. And that's not all, because soon there will be "do-it-at-home" tests like the pregnancy test for women.
Frankie made an easy to follow 3 step plan to use after having had unprotected sex, which I directly classified as "The Three T's. "
Step one is, obviously, get Tested. If you are HIV positive you should start medical Treatment as fast as possible, because that way you'll be way less likely to infect others. Then the final step, which is equally important: Tell. It means that, if you're HIV positive, you should tell your partner, but also talk about it.
As I wrote before, Frankie is a very interesting man, a man who has a lot of good, simple and down to earth ideas and initiatives. I can start summing up all the things he is going to organize in the near future, but why should I? If you have a look his website (http://www.hivverenigingbelgie.be) you can find out about his upcoming fcelebrity fashion show (which DAA will be partner up for!) and other cool events for yourself.
HIV does not mean the end -and if that's not a good message, we don't know what is!